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Image / Editorial

A second Brexit referendum could be on the cards if delay is rejected by EU


by Jennifer McShane
27th Feb 2019
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The Brexit deadline draws ever-closer and according to the latest developments, a second referendum is looking like a distinct possibility.

MPs have voted overwhelmingly to hold Theresa May to her commitment to giving them a vote on delaying Brexit if her withdrawal agreement fails to win a majority within the next two weeks.

The prime minister has promised to put her Brexit deal to a “meaningful vote” by March 12th, and if it is rejected, to allow MPs to vote by March 13th on whether they want to leave the EU without a deal on March 29th.

Related: Brexit: MPs vote for ‘alternative arrangements’ to Irish backstop

If they reject a no-deal Brexit – something which is the less-desired outcome – they will be able to vote on March 14th to tell the government to seek an extension to the article 50 negotiating deadline.

However, French president Emmanuel Macron says he would only accept an extension request on Brexit if there was a “clear objective.”

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said this week said Ireland would not block an extension of the Brexit deadline.

A Government spokesman said that they wanted to see “a deal agreed” and that short of the UK deciding to stay in the EU, an extension was the “best outcome for Ireland” to avoid a “crash out on March 29.”

“We are open to an extension of the Article 50 deadline in order to avoid a crash out on March 29,” he said.

If the extension is not approved via the EU, a second referendum is looking like a viable option.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn favoured a Brexit agreement that would see the UK staying in a customs union – which was rejected – and said his party would support a second referendum.

Prime Minister Theresa May has continually said she was committed to avoiding a hard border: “We are absolutely committed to there being no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”

May’s “meaningful vote” will take place on March 14.


Main photograph: Unsplash